Battery Care

Caring for your Leisure Battery and charging it.

Please note, that these are the opinions of the Curragh Caravans only, and you should seek professional guidance if unsure.

What types of batteries are there?

Flooded Batteries: These batteries have a  liquid electrolyte (Lead acid). Standard types have removable caps so you are able to add deionized water. Flooded batteries are normally cheap and if kept topped up they are not too sensitive to high charging voltages. Sealed batteries have fixed valves to ensure gas can vent during use.

Gelled Electrolyte Batteries : The electrolyte is a type of jelly and therefore cant leak. The electrolyte can’t be diluted so that over charging has to be avoided and these batteries sometimes only last for 2 or 3 years in hot conditions although with good care they can last for 5 years.

Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) Batteries: The electrolyte is held between the plates which is absorbed in a fine boron-silicate mat. Similar to gelled electrolyte batteries, these wont leak acid. They will hold out under more careless treatment and are not as sensitive to over charging since they are built to hold vented gases.

AGM batteries may also stand for 30 days in a completely discharged state and still recharge successfully after. The big drawback to AGM  batteries is that they cost  around 2 or 3 times as much as flooded ones.

Battery Care

Every year clean the battery tray, terminals, surrounding area and connectors, smear the connectors with petroleum jelly. Unless its sealed for life, take out the battery vent plugs or strips and look into each cell to check the level of liquid, this should cover the top of the plates.

If the plates are visible, top them up with distilled or deionized water ONLY.

A voltmeter is the easiest method to check the voltage across the battery terminals.

Sealed Battery Charging

Some style batteries, normally called “maintenance free” or “sealed for life”, have cells that do not have filler caps, and are not meant to be topped up with water. It is vital that such batteries are not allowed to gas up since this will lower the level of electrolytes in the cells, which cant be filled up.

Gassing starts when the voltage at the terminals of the battery increases above a level which can for most batteries be around 14.1 Volts. Under this voltage there is practically no gassing. It is then important to remember with such batteries that the voltage at the battery terminals is kept under this value.

These type of batteries are usually charged with an automatic or voltage controlled charger. Sealed batteries can normally be charged carefully using a normal battery charger but this can require use of a multimeter.

Maintenance-free batteries often seem to be completely sealed. However, like standard batteries, they do have opening slots or vents to allow gases to escape.

How to avoid over-charging your battery

Never leave the battery plugged in to a charger for more than the time needed.  Although the caravan charger system is sufficient, the disadvantage is that it will never fully charge the battery to its full load. The charge is cut off early at 13.85 volts. Whatever type of battery you use, the in-built charger will give it a max charge to around 80% of the batteries original capacity. Over any length of time, this can cause sulphation with the plates using leisure batteries,because of under charging.

Over-charging can occur when the battery stays on charge after it has hit its full charge (14.40 volts). Over-charging can lead to excess heat that may cause the plates in the cells to warp and break into their active material.

The battery may also respond to the over-charge by producing too much hydrogen and oxygen as the water in the electrolyte starts to break down. The water that is missing due to over-charging can be refilled in a non-sealed battery. With a sealed battery, the water missing is permanent and will hugely shorten battery life.

Re-charge your battery after its been used and if the caravan is to be parked up for more than a month, make sure the battery is taken out and stored fully charged in a cool, dry place. Check every couple of  months and re-charge if its needed to ensure a long battery life. A battery left under 12.3V will depreciate quickly and will not be re-chargeable to its original capacity. If your charging the battery when its removed from the caravan, make sure that the storage place is well ventilated, and do not smoke nearby it.


A battery will lose its charge slowly, even when no equipment is attached. Modern batteries lose 0.1 to 0.3% of their charge each day at room temperature, from new – hence a new bought battery might not be fully charged. As the batteries get older or temperature increases, so does the self-discharge rate of it.

Storage might  affect the speed of discharge. A battery should never be stored directly on the floor and most especially not on concrete. The best method is a wooden pallet which wont conduct or allow any damp paths and will allow a good air circulation. During storage, most makers recommend a top-up charge  every two months or so.

Charging a battery in the boot of a car

An old method and still commonly used was to move the leisure battery to the boot of the car to achieve a higher charge rate from the car alternator. The caravan battery or a spare battery can be re-charged at the same time with the car battery from the car’s alternator and the most effective place to locate the caravan battery is in the car boot. (The shorter cable run, and the with the use of larger cables, means a huge increase in charge rate over a battery located in the caravan).

The battery should also be connected in parallel with the car battery matching what  is the positive terminals are connected together, same as the negative terminals.

Batteries should not be left hooked up unless they are charging or they will attempt to equalize each other and so cause each other to discharge. It is then essential to have some device which will of its own accord disconnect the caravan battery when the ignition is switched off in the car.

A split charge relay is the common method and it suits nearly all types of car alternators. The relay comes with the installation instructions including the recommended size of cable that should be used. Ideally the caravan battery should be fixed to the boot floor using a box or similar.

With the car ignition switched off, the relay separates the car battery from the caravan battery. When the ignition is switched on (depending on the type of relay connection used) the batteries then are re-connected together and will start to receive a charge. If your battery has a venting tube, check to make sure this is routed to the outside of the car.

Campsite Etiquette

If you are fairly new to going on a campsite holiday and heading off in a caravan, it’s important to know and observe what you should and shouldn’t do when you are there. Breaking some of the campsite etiquette rules won’t just make you unpopular with fellow caravan members but in some cases can even have you put out from the campsite completely.

1. Always bear in mind, that when pitching your caravan, don’t go past your pitch boundaries. Your neighbours will not take too kindly to you crossing into their space.

2. Remember to raise the ground sheet of your awning each day to allow grass to breathe underneath it so the pitch is stays nice for the people who will be camping after you in that pitch.

3. If you are allowed to camp with your pet please make sure they don’t go running on to anyone else’s pitches and always clean up after them.

4. Always respect the rights of others to a quiet night of sleep – if you are with a big group of people, ask for a pitch away from families so that you’re unlikely to disturb them. Music levels should be kept low at night.

5. Watch where you build your fire if you are making one; your neighbours won’t appreciate their freshly washed clothing smelling of smoke; keep an eye on the wind direction.

6. Never litter, and that includes cigarette butt-ends. Always pick it all up as you go and get rid of it in facilities offered at the campsite. If there are no facilities then you must take it away with you.

7. If during the wet and muddy conditions you choose to use the shower facilities offered at the campsite make sure you give the floor a quick mop over after you’ve used it so that its clean for other fellow campers.

8. Always be careful of local wildlife by not leaving food out unattended or feeding the animals; this might attract them to the site and it will end up being a disaster if you come out to find foxes munching through your food.

9. Early risers; those who head to bed early and get up at dawn need to be mindful of those that maybe are in need of a lay in – don’t go wake them up with noise.

10. Taking your caravan away during the quiet season and you are given a choice of pitch, don’t opt for the one next to the only other person camping on the site without asking them first – it can be considered rude as they might wish to have some privacy from others at that time.

Insurance On Your Caravan

Insuring your caravan and understanding what is actually covered can be quite confusing sometimes. Depending on what model and year caravan you have, it can be quite important to have it insured. You want to know that its insured regardless if on your hitch while driving down the road or if its parked up on a holiday spot or at home.

To make it simpler we have broken it down into 2 sections. One while its on the hitch and the other when its parked up somewhere.


Fully Comprehensive

Policy Schedule
“Trailers: Full comprehensive cover is provided for towing trailers and while they are uncoupled single axle trailers up to a half tonne weight unladen excluding caravans, trailer tents, boat trailers, mobile homes, permanently sited temporary dwelling, trailers used for commercial purposes or which incorporates machinery or equipment unless required by any Road Traffic Act legislation.”

Third Party

Policy Schedule
“Trailers: Third Party cover is provided for towing trailers and while they are uncoupled single axle trailers up to a half tonne weight unladen excluding caravans, trailer tents, boat trailers, mobile homes, permanently sited temporary dwelling, trailers used for commercial purposes or which incorporates machinery or equipment unless required by any Road Traffic Act legislation.”

Product Suitability

” Trailer Cover – Third Party cover in respect of any coupled trailer used in connection with your car, and also any trailer whilst uncoupled provided they are single axle and not more than a half tonne in weight unladen but excluding any caravan, trailer tent, boat trailer, mobile home or permanently sited temporary dwelling and any trailer which is used for any commercial purpose or which incorporates machinery or any other equipment. Broader cover is available on other policies. Comprehensive cover is available on specified trailers for an extra premium. Where you have selected such cover details will be shown on your schedule”

Judging at the general policy holder conditions most people are covered when they are towing there caravan automatically by their insurance company. However we suggest you double check it first for peace of mind.



Caravans fall under the home insurance policy (once you note it on your policy) and you have it on your driveway. This will cover you in case of theft, damage or otherwise any other mishap that might befall your caravan when its parked safely on your driveway. This is a very cheap solution as your policy seldom changes much with adding a caravan to it. You can purchase a cheap caravan insurance policy which will cover you when your at your holiday camp as well. They are not expensive and can bring you some peace of mind if your worried about where you are holidaying. Just like any travel insurance.


With your caravan fully insured while towing it around, it is then possible to hit the roads and take in some of the most outstanding camping opportunities the country has to offer. Whether it is a picturesque campsite, a secluded site set amidst the glorious backdrop of the Wicklow mountains, the flexibility open to the caravan owner means it’s easy to see the appeal of a caravan holiday.

Storing Items The Right Way In Your Caravan

When it gets to time to loading up your caravan for a trip it is very important that you try and pack things securely. Hopefully these few tips will help. Make sure that all items are securely packed as movement can cause damage to the interior of your caravan. Grab some towels to cushion things were there is excess movement.

  • Waste and water containers should be sat on the floor in the toilet cupboard.
  • Gas bottles, main electric cables and levellers should be stored in the gas locker at the front of the caravan.
  • Heavy items, awning, poles etc. should be packed and stored on the floor over the axle area. Make sure they are secure and tightened.
  • Medium weight items, plastic furniture, bikes and other things of similar weight, should be slotted in just in front or behind the heavier items. They need to be secured and fastened.
  • Put your crockery in racks up in the overhead lockers in the kitchen.
  • If your bringing food try to use packets rather than tins as these take up less room and are not as heavy.
  • Food packaged in large boxes  can consume space, packing them into freezer bags that are sealed takes up a lot less room and keeps them just as fresh.
  • Only 100% sealed containers of liquid should go in the fridge.
  • Put all bed covers and linen to the bed lockers under the bunk seats.
  • Store your T-shirts and other garments in the overhead storage lockers.
  • Any clothes that are on hangers should be Pegged to hangers so that they don’t fall off during travel.
  • Put your shoes and boots in the bottom of the wardrobes.
  • Bath towels and tea cloths can be put in the overhead lockers or on the shelves in the wardrobe.

Keeping Your Caravan Clean

Everybody has to keep their caravan tidy and in a clean condition. If you do not fall behind when cleaning your caravan, it will never have to be a big job. Usually people like to go over their caravan giving it a good clean right before they go on their first trip of the season; others though leave it at that.

It is a great idea to give it a real good clean before it heads into storage for any period of time. This will make cleaning the caravan in the spring that definitely easier. Divide your caravan cleaning into two parts, the exterior and the interior. This guide will try give you a few tips on how to clean your caravan inside and out.


This really is not any different than cleaning the inside of your house. Follow the rule of ‘a little and regular’ it will make a huge difference and will mean you don’t have to commit to several days of carrying out one big caravan clean in one go.

Carpets need to be kept vacuumed in order that the dust and dirt doesn’t sneak up on you, if they are removable carpets, you should take them out and give them a good beat them on a wall or a washing line to make sure they are really free of dust and clean.

Keep the worktops and surfaces clean and regularly dusted. The faster you remove any build up of dirt and scuffs, the cleaner your caravan will look. Things such as the cooker can easily become messy and will need a bit more work than other things.

Kitchen cleaners should be fine to clean them out. However wooden surfaces, be careful what for a cleaning product you will use, some might have bleach or other chemicals that may damage or stain the wood veneers. There is specialist caravan cleaning products available like Towsure Spray and Clean that are designed to work on wood surfaces and similar inside caravans without doing any damage to them.

Bathrooms should be cleaned in the usual way. There is a specialist caravan cleaning product that can be used, its a toilet spray produced by Thetford. It’s specially designed to be used on plastic toilets without doing any damage to them and produces great results.


Maintaining the outside of your caravan and keeping it clean is just as important. If and when you choose to sell the caravan its the first thing any prospective buyer will see so making a good impression is important. There are some washing places that specialise in exterior caravan cleaning but if you keep ahead of it, it won’t be a hard job to do yourself.

The outside of the caravan takes the worst of the dirt from being used and being in storage so they definitely require more regular cleaning to make them look fresh and clean. Wash the outside of a caravan the same way as you would wash a car.

There is specific cleaning products such as a polish that will bring up a nice shine on the fibreglass, as well as an acrylic window polish that will work much better to clean caravan windows than say any glass cleaner does.

Do not forget the roof when cleaning your caravan, it is important and normally will have the most dirt out of the whole outside because of birds and leaves etc. You can use a special hose attachments, like an extending pole which will make cleaning your caravan roof a lot easier and safer.

Under no circumstances put your body weight on the caravan roof, it is not designed for that and is not strong enough. You might cause permanent damage and bend it. Cleaning your caravan roof before you store it for any extended period will make keeping your caravan clean in the summer a lot easier.

Storing Your Used Caravan

This guide is a rough checklist that should be followed if you are not going to be using your caravan over an extended period of time.

This guide is intended to give you some guidance on how best to store away your caravan for an extended period including wintering your caravan as well. This is only guidance and we take no responsibility for any advice given. Each caravan is unique and some instructions might vary depending on your caravan.

1. The Water System should be completely drained, the hot and cold water system in the van, you can do this by ensuring all the taps are open and removing the drain plug, located normally on the outside of the van. This might take up to an hour so do not get impatient. A good time to do this is before you head off for your last trip of the year, the return journey should ensure all water is drained. When your back home ensure that the bung is put back in the drain plugs but leave the taps on, to make sure there is no build up in the water pressure.

2. If your caravan comes with a water filter fitted, remove it or leave a note to replace it next season. If you fit the new one before you store the caravan it could get damp and damaged by the cold.

3. Let the water out of all the carriers completely and leave the plugs to off to avoid stagnant water smells.

4. The Bathroom – Completely empty the water holding tank into the toilet cassette and remove the toilet cassette for draining and cleaning. When the cassette is completely cleaned out and rinsed use protectant or something like it to coat the cassette seal and blade. This will help avoid corrosion over the winter months. Leave the blade on open to avoid it sticking.

5. Make sure to plug up all the water inlets and waste outlets to stop smell and bugs / spiders coming in.

6.Take care of your upholstery, take away all cushions, pillows and bedding and if you can, put them in your home. If not, just remove the seats and back cushions and lay them, end on end in the walkway of the caravan.

7. Make sure to leave all internal doors and cupboards open to allow the air to get around.

8. Give all the cupboards a good clean out and ensure that no crumbs, open containers remain in the van. Leaving tinned foods and non-perishable things should be OK for storage.

9. Scrub clean the fridge with a good anti-fungal liquid. Make sure to leave the door open to avoid pressure building up and a stale smell.

10. Make sure all the windows and air vents are locked shut and unobstructed and are entry proof from mice and bugs etc. Close all the blinds and curtains for extra privacy.

11. Take out your leisure battery, if you can, and make sure to keep the charge topped up every 7-8 weeks. Remember if your caravan has an alarm, they normally run off their own separate batteries, so taking out the leisure battery won’t affect the security, (make sure you check out your own caravan to ensure this is the case)

12. If you can try to remove all gas cylinders and store in an safe and ventilated location. If not, ensure that all cylinders are 100% turned off and the gas compartment is locked shut. Remember when storing Butane gas, it begins to freeze at temperatures below 4 degrees C. Propane does not.

13. Plug sockets should be protected from the weather, but not fully sealed as this can encourage condensation. Some moisture defensive sprays, like WD 40 may damage plastics so we suggest that Vaseline is applied around the sockets.

14. If the stereo is of the removable sort, take it and store in the house.

15. Always make sure to carry out occasional inspections of your caravan over winter to ensure that no damp is in the caravan and to make sure it is ok out against the frost. Little tip: Leave bowls of salt throughout the caravan. If the winter has been really bad the bowls have water over the top of the salt level but mostly its just damp. Very cheap way to keep the caravan dry. We use it and never had a damp caravan yet.


1. You can prolong the tyre life, suspension and the running carriage on your caravan if you take the weight off the wheels for just a few weeks of the year. To manage this, support the axles with axles stands and take off the wheels and nuts for storing. Store the wheels out of direct sunlight and keep in a place where contact with oils and greases is avoided.

2. If your caravan is fitted with shock absorbers, give the rods a good clean and coat them with Vaseline, don’t forget to take the Vaseline off before you go on the road again.

3. Make sure that the handbrake is left off, to avoid them sticking.

4. Take care that the awning is regularly washed and clean and completely dry before storing for any period of time, if you don’t do this it can cause mouldy patches on the awning. It is better to store the awning in the house rather than in the caravan if its possible.

5. You can cover your caravan with a large cover but if you do this, make sure you use a breathable cover because if it is not, the cover will cause more harm than doing good.

6. Give the window seals a run-over with olive oil to help preventing them from sticking.

7. Make sure you store the caravan when possible in a garage area or a covered terrace area. It is very important in cases where you are storing the trailer that there is no leaks coming from the roof concentrated into one area as it would force the rain to collate in one section of the covering causing damage.

Roof leaks are easily checked by getting a ladder and visually inspecting to the roof from the side. If not sure about it, you can learn more about leaks here or call a professional like TC Roofers – Roofing Contractors in Dublin to give you a free maintenance check on your roof.

8. Tie down the covers over the caravan to jacks at the back and to the towbar at the front.

Caravan Travel Safety

Before you leave home for a great touring holiday, run through this checklist to ensure you have a safe and pleasant journey.


  • Check oil, water, brake fluid, the battery etc.
  • Inspect all tyres carefully and remember, when towing heavily loaded trailers your vehicle’s tyre pressures should be increased to the level recommended in the owner’s handbook or on the tyre placard. If in doubt, contact your local tyre dealer. Check that your vehicle and trailer’s wheel nuts have been tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Ensure the coupling socket and ball match in size. Check that the coupling is correctly and securely fastened.
  • Check that the safety chains are correctly connected.
  • Check to ensure that the trailer brake and light connections are secure and that all lights work.
  • Check that the towing lights, number plates and registration labels of your caravan are clearly visible.
  • Disengage any reversing catch fitted to the trailer coupling (as used with over-run brakes). Make one or two test stops to check that the brakes are working properly.
  • Ensure that your load is properly secured. Limit the amount of load in the boot of the tow vehicle.
  • Ensure that the rear vision mirrors on the tow vehicle are properly adjusted.
  • Ensure that the gas cylinders are properly secured. While you are travelling ensure that the gas cylinders are turned off and that the refrigerator door is closed.
  • Check that the roll-out awning is stored away and locked in the travel position.
  • Remove the jockey wheel from its clamp and store it in the boot of the car or RV, or if it is of the swivel mount variety, lock it in the travelling position.
  • Check that the front and rear corner stabilisers are in the up position.
  • Ensure that the hand brake of the trailer has been correctly released.
  • Check that the roof hatches, windows and stone shields are secure.
  • Check that water, sullage and electrical cords has been disconnected and stored away.
  • Check that the TV antenna is in the travel position.



  • Check that the couplings and chains are still securely fastened.
  • Check that the brakes and wheel bearings are not overheating, by comparing to your car brakes.
  • Check that light connections are still secure and that the lights are working.
  • Check that the tyres are still sufficiently inflated.
  • Check that the load is still secure.
  • Check that the roll out awning is still properly locked in the travel position.


Caravan safety matters to all of us. Make sure to follow the checklist to ensure you have a safe journey. Don’t forget to get your caravan regularly serviced either. If you are looking for someone to service yours, give us a call and we can help you find the right person for the job.